Published February 3, 2010

An Inside Look on Starting a Home-Based Interior Design Business

Creative people like creative jobs, and interior designers love the creative freedom and satisfaction they get from designing a beautiful home or business space. If you are interested in unleashing your creative skills on a home or business environment, a part-time interior design business may be the job for you.

Starting a part-time business in interior design can lead to a rewarding career. Interior designers do work in a variety of spaces, such as private homes, business offices, or retail stores. The objective of an interior design business is to design, implement and provide a space that is attractive, comfortable, and functional.

Skills Required: Training in interior design, artistic ability, creativity, design software knowledge, negotiation skills.

Starting an interior design business may require that you take certain courses, or even complete an associate or bachelor degree in interior design. 18 states have licensing requirements, requiring an individual who wants to start an interior design business to pass a state examination.

Mostly, starting an interior design business requires that you be creative in designing office or home space, and that you are familiar with different materials used for interior renovation.

Additionally, an interior designer should be a good negotiator in order to award renovation and construction projects to independent contractors.

Startup Expenses: $1,000 - $5,000

Starting a part-time business as an interior designer doesn't require a separate office space, but it could be helpful to display your abilities to prospective clients. However, you can operate out of your home, as well use your own home computer.

As with most new businesses, you will need marketing materials to get your business advertised and gain a client base. Letterhead and envelopes, business cards, and a set of full marketing packets are helpful marketing materials. Advertising and promotion will be added costs as well.

Of course, the most important piece of marketing material is your portfolio, which showcases the work that you have completed thus far. For those who are just starting in the industry, consider creative ways you can build your portfolio. Of course, you can include pictures of your own home, but consider bartering and trading your interior design services with friends and family members so that you can grow your portfolio.

In addition, an interior design business will need AutoCAD software, which is standard for the industry. This software allows you to create your professional designs and display them to clients. A good AutoCAD program may cost between $600 and $1,400.

An interior designer's collection of sample books is lifeblood to the business. You will need a variety of sample books of wallpapers, fabrics, flooring, paint colors, etc. These sample books can cost up to $250 each, but you can try to negotiate with companies to provide free or low-cost sample books in exchange for business.

Monthly Revenue: $1,000 - $3,000 per month

The income potential for a part-time interior design business depends on how many and the scope of projects you choose. No job will be the same or cost the same, and interior designers each structure their fees differently. You can either charge by the hour or mark up the furniture pieces purchased for the home.

Monthly Expenses: $350 - $900

Other than project-related expenses, your usual overhead expenses necessary for operating your interior design business are minimal. You should plan on the following:

  • Insurance (liability, equipment, and errors & omissions) - $50 to $100 per month.
  • Bookkeeping - $100 per month
  • Marketing - $100 to $300 per month
  • Phone - $70 to $200 per month
  • Auto Expenses - $50 to $200 per month

Starting an interior design business can be very rewarding, and the more you grow your portfolio, the more your client base shall strengthen.